Various thoughts on current events with an emphasis on politics, legal issues, sports, and whatever is on my mind. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org; please put "blog comments" in the subject line.
Gov. Mitch Daniels Reminds Us He Isn't THAT Reasonable
I enjoy reading Volokh Conspiracy largely because of the excellent comments but also because of various interesting topics, though some of the "conspirators" are basically knee-jerk tools about various issues.
But, just to remember why I'm a Democrat, even the "serious" ones like Orin Kerr and Eugene Volokh (who was ridiculed in the Bush years for saying he wasn't really keen on discussing torture, since he wasn't really into that sort of thing academically; this didn't stop him from musing about things like consent laws ... sorry, torture hits to the core of the basic meanings of liberty and limitations of power) let their kneejerk and partisan side (Kerr now and then freely admits he's a Republican) come out. The coverage of the Clement/K&S matter underlines that. Ditto some of the "excellent" [EV also went out of his way to selectively support some conservative from Texas] politicians they support, even "reasonable" ones like Mitch Daniels.
Gov. Daniels is trying to move above the fray in part by avoiding the culture wars. And, given the field, he and people like Gary Johnson (who Glenn Greenwald is interested in, but lest we be confused, as noted via Twitter, DOES NOT "support" or "endorse") are probably credible additions to the field. Lest we forget, he still is a conservative politician. The VC thread linked in the penultimate (ha) link includes people trying to avoid his budgetary embarrassment during the Bush years. He supports union busting laws, but just is wary about the negative blowback (of the sort Rachel Maddow focuses upon) that the current efforts in a few states have brung. And, he supports conservative anti-Planned Parenthood / abortion legislation [final version might be slightly different; the PP amendment was a late edition, so not sure if it's there].
It's things like this that help provide perspective, including to anti-Obama (nice job at the correspondents dinner Mr. President) sorts from the left who like to bash him. The anti-PP portion of the bill was the target of a local op-ed:
Lawmakers say the new law, the first in the union to ban Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation's oldest and largest sexual and reproductive health care organization, may deny the state $4 million in federal support. The governor should not allow care that is inarguably positive to be sacrificed. The General Assembly should have separated the abortion restrictions from PPIN funding. If legislators insist on pursuing their current strategy, they must put in place a clear alternate to the PPIN health services for those who need them. And regardless of the conundrum the current bill may pose for Daniels as he considers a run for president, he should not sign H.B. 1210.
A comment* nicely notes that if money is so fungible that PP can't be funded (the governor spoke of some sort of segregation of funds, which given national anti-abortion measures sounds like a tar-baby and probably would include limits on even abortion counseling) it's unclear how religious charities can be funded, since the money frees up more money for church services. And, to me, at least there a soup kitchen can have a secular aspect, even if a church runs it out of religious conviction. Abortion choices are basically always a component of family planning. On some level, it seems worse to single it out.
As noted here, this is not just about planned parenthood as whole, that is, contraceptives and all that. Abortion rights are also at stake. A look at the bill suggests a few concerns. True, ultrasound is not required; the girl/woman only has to be given a choice to see it. Pre-viability abortions are protected, while a few states try to inhibit them overall. The bill's title notes it is about "health," underlining abortion is part of health care. Other "half full" aspects probably can be cited. Since this is Indiana, which is basically moderate Red State territory, it is probably helpful to recognize sanity when one can.
Nonetheless, the bill focuses on evidence of fetal pain to block abortions after twenty weeks (fetuses aren't viable at that point, but that allows a margin of error to the outer limits of where they are) except for "substantial permanent impairment of the life or physical health of the pregnant woman" (note a standard generalization, though a significant number will be teenage girls). This not only ignores "mental" health, leads to debates over what "substantial" and "permanent" means, but results in cases where a woman has to bring a severely malformed fetus that won't survive to term, since it doesn't fit into that narrow category. And, it is currently scientifically debatable that twenty week old fetuses actually do feel pain. If they do, the alternative would be -- if possible -- to only allow abortions that first anesthetize the fetus.
The law also targets "partial birth" abortion and only allows this so-called procedure if "no other medical procedure is sufficient to save the mother's life." As with a procedure that might for temporary (a year?) time impair health, this (though probably with some unclear exception) ignores health concerns, allowing less safe methods as long as the mother (sic) doesn't die. And, even if the woman opposes this restriction, a "spouse, parent, sibling, guardian" has standing to sue the doctor to stop this or any other thing allegedly in violation of the statute.
The bill has various regulations of the abortion procedure that very well might be overly restrictive, but by now that's old news. The pro-health care choice legislator is left with a rear guard effort to try to block or focus upon the most egregious aspects of such legislation. Thus, we are left with seeing not forcing women to view ultrasounds are a victory. Small that they might be. Meanwhile, this and other burdens is the result of conservative wins at the polls, reasonable they might be relative to others out there.
* Full comment from paper:
Since money is fungible our tax dollars that go to religious groups ostensibly for services to the poor may in fact be applied to proselytising which violates federal law. So if Planned Parenthood can not receive funds to provide health care for the poor because money would otherwise be used for abortions the same can be said for all religious charities that receive our tax dollars. I think we should stop funding all charities or private service organizations with tax dollars so they can operate without government interference or having wing-nuts ride herd on them because they provide a service some folks oppose.
Principled consistency is the hobgoblin of partisan minds, or something.